Factors leading to students' poor performance in KCSE mathematics examination: the case of public secondary schools in Kiambu district, Kenya
Ng'an'ga, Florence E.W.K.
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Between the year 1999 and 2006, a majority of the students who sat for the KCSE mathematics in public secondary schools in Kiambu District performed poorly. This is despite several interventions that were initiated by the Ministry of Education in Kenya the most recent of such interventions being SMASSE project. The general objective of this intervention and the other previous ones was to improve the performance in mathematics at the KCSE level. In spite of these several interventions, the proportion of students who scored grade D+ and below gradually increased from 79% in 2002 to a high of 85% in 2005 and later dropped to 81% in 2006. This study, investigated factors leading to students' poor performance in KCSE mathematics among public secondary school in Kiambu District, Kenya. The objectives of the study were to: (i) Establish if the qualification of the mathematics teachers influences performance in KCSE mathematics among public secondary schools in Kiambu District, (ii) Establish if the teaching methodology used by mathematics teachers influence performance in KCSE mathematics among public secondary schools in Kiambu District (iii) Investigate if inadequate professional exposure of mathematics teachers influence performance in KCSE mathematics among public secondary schools in Kiambu District (iv) Establish if the attitude of students towards learning of mathematics influences performance in USE mathematics among public secondary schools in Kiambu District and finally (v) Investigate if the missing link between primary and secondary level assessment in mathematics influences performance in KCSE mathematics among public secondary schools in Kiambu District. Stratified, random sampling method was used to sample schools and while purposeful sampling was used to select the students and the teachers.. Standardized questionnaires with both open and closed-ended questions were used to collect data. Quantitative data analysis was done using SPS S and presented in charts and descriptive statistics, while qualitative data were analysed using thematic themes. The study established that, teachers were not using student- centred approaches, lack of experiments and lack of professional exposures that could have articulated issues related to teaching of mathematics in secondary schools were some of the factors that lead to poor performance in KCSE mathematics examinations. Further, the public secondary school students stated that the teachers used unsuitable teaching methods, while at the same time they used infrequent experiments that not related to the environment. Teachers also attributed the poor performance in the secondary schools to the students' negative attitude towards mathematics and the missing link between primary and secondary mathematics assessment methods. The study recommends that, the teachers in Kiambu District should work with other relevant authorities to create an institution that will enhance interaction of mathematics teachers with an aim of improving their professional exposure and that, there should be a deliberate attempt to create a link between primary and secondary level mathematics assessment methods.